Dance student finds "translation of energy" on the stage

Nov. 19, 2013—When it comes to describing what moves her, UO junior Ferena Kagata is quite eloquent.

"Dancing is my passion; it gives me purpose," says Kagata. "When I am performing, there is an exchange of breath with the audience, this translation of energy that I have never experienced off the stage."

Kagata was recently announced as a member of the University of Oregon Repertory Dance Company, the department's touring company. Kagata and her fellow UORDC members will travel to Central Point, Oregon and the North Bend-Coos Bay area of coastal Oregon to present educational lecture-demonstrations, movement workshops, and master classes to K-12 students.

Only the department’s top dancers are offered admittance into the prestigious program.

"This vocation provides the amazing opportunity of being able to work closely with a smaller group of dancers over a long period of time, learning from each other in a way that is unique from the classroom experience," Kagata says.

Raised in Tokyo, Kagata began dancing in middle school but never received formal training until enrolling at the UO. She says she chose the UO because the dance faculty offers a variety of aesthetics that other schools lack. Kagata says that UO dance students receive an individual education from professors who are dedicated to working one-on-one with performers, crafting curriculum based on a particular dancer's strengths and weaknesses.

"I have gained a new level of creativity and approach to technique since beginning at the UO, which has helped me grow tremendously in my skill level," Kagata says.

UORDC will not represent the first time Kagata has been able to travel to pursue her passion. During the summer of 2013, Kagata attended the Salt Dance Fest in Salt Lake City, Utah where she worked with preeminent choreographers and teachers. The UO Department of Dance funded Kagata's trip.

"The program was incredible and gave me the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and cope with new challenges in a different culture," Kagata asserts. "It was humbling to know that the school believed in me enough support me in this area."

Kagata will spend part of the coming winter in New York, working with different dance companies in hopes of making connection that will serve her well after her graduation.

--Victoria Schmidt